Identifying Depression Symptoms In The Elderly With Dementia

If your parent or grandparent has started to develop dementia, then it may be time to start thinking about an assisted living facility. These facilities are designed to provide care for elderly individuals who can no longer be fully independent. Many facilities provide nursing care and you can work closely with physicians, nurses, and nursing aids to help develop a medical treatment strategy that works well for your loved one. Part of this strategy may involve identifying new or troublesome symptoms, like ones that may indicate your family member is depressed. Depression is common among individuals who require nursing care until a routine is established. Medication, therapy, and outings can all assist your parent or grandparent, but you will need to differentiate between dementia and depression symptoms so medical staff can be notified.

Identify Abrupt Memory Changes

If you have noticed your loved one's dementia progressing, then you have undoubtedly recognized memory problems. While the brain is not completely understood, medical professionals know quite a bit about dementia and how the brain is affected by the disease. Typically, brain tissues will shrink in one specific area of the brain and your loved one will experience specific symptoms based on the location of the damage. The hippocampus is damaged first in many cases.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain that helps you form new memories as data is stored from one day to the next. Damage to this part of the brain makes it hard for your loved one to remember what they ate for lunch or what they read in the newspaper that morning. However, long stored memories will remain vivid. Eventually, your loved one will begin to forget stored memories. As dementia progresses, short term memory will worsen before long term memory. Fortunately, brain deterioration and memory loss is slow.

Short term memory loss is also a symptom of depression, but it happens much more quickly. The problem is linked to the way that negative thoughts overwhelm the brain and make it difficult to concentrate and focus. If you notice that your loved one cannot complete simple tasks that they could navigate previously, then this may be a sign of depression. Also, if your relative notices that they cannot remember things or if they are frustrated by their own confusion, then this is most likely a depression problem and not a dementia one.

Consider Other Medical Conditions

If your loved one is not well and is being treated at the assisted living facility for diseases other than dementia, then these illnesses may be causing depression. Certain medical conditions can cause neurotransmitter deficiencies, changes in the brain, or metabolic disruptions than can change the mood. Parkinson's disease, diabetes, lupus, cancer, stroke, and vitamin deficiencies are a few examples. 

Also, while certain ailments can cause depression symptoms, others can cause sadness as well as psychological stress. This is true of any painful or debilitating disorder. Work with the assisted living facility to understand a little bit more about the types of ailments that may be affecting your loved one and also how symptoms may develop or change as a disease progresses.

If the medical staff at the facility is working to find a treatment regimen that works for your loved one, then new medications may be provided. Some of these medications may cause depression as a side effect as well. Steroids, immune system suppressors, muscle relaxants, stimulants, thyroid medicines, beta-blockers, and other medications can lead to depression.

If your loved one seems as though they are depressed, then investigate whether or not a new medication has been started recently. Physicians may be able to switch medications, reduce dosages, or stop medications if you speak up. 

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About Me

Making an Important Move

About seven years ago, my grandmother’s oxygen suddenly dropped dangerously low. Sadly, this event negatively affected her mind. Because she could no longer care for herself, my aunt decided to move my grandmother into her house. My aunt quickly concluded my grandmother needed more help than she could provide. So, she put my grandmother in a nearby nursing home. At the nursing facility, my grandmother was treated with respect and dignity. She also received the extensive, physical care she needed. On this blog, I hope you will discover the many benefits of moving an elderly loved one into a nursing home.